What is a Water Softener Used for

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Living in a home with hard water can be a costly problem. When the groundwater flows through your home’s pipes, the dissolved minerals combine with heat, leaving a scale buildup that can damage your pipes, appliances, and fixtures. As your water flows through the ground, it collects minerals like calcium and magnesium along the way.

A water softener is a solution to this problem. By removing the minerals that cause the scale buildup, a water softener can make your water soft. Softened water is easier on your skin, hair, and clothes. It also cleans dishes better and leaves less soap scum in your shower or bath. Read on to find out how a water softener works.

Benefits of a Home Water Softener

A water softener works to treat hard water by removing the minerals responsible through a process called ion exchange. Minerals that cause hardness and damage to your home are trapped by resin within the system and exchanged for sodium and potassium ions. Installing a water softener at the point where your water enters your home is an easy way to solve the problem of hard water.

Benefits of a Home Water Softener
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Water softeners may remove mineral ions, but they do not remove contaminants such as bacteria or heavy metals like lead, mercury, or even iron. Here are the benefits of having a whole house water softener in your home:

Soft Water Will Help You Save Money

If you have hard water, then you know how much of a pain it is. You have to use more soap for laundry and dishes, and your hair and skin can feel dry and irritated. Not to mention, hard water leaves behind mineral deposits that can damage your plumbing.

The mineral buildup can wreak havoc on your appliances, which means more frequent repair or replacement costs for your dishwasher, laundry machines, coffee machines, water heaters, and ice makers. A water softener will save you money by helping you to avoid all of these problems. Here’s how water softener saves you money:


As minerals travel in hard water through your pipes, they stick, forming a scale buildup that will clog your pipes. If your home has severe hard water compositions, the buildup can cause irreversible damage to your plumbing, leading to a costly and time-consuming repair job. The best way to treat your hard water is through water softening before it has a chance to build up.


Using a water softener can prevent the adverse effect of hard water on your dishwasher and laundry machines. Not only does the scale buildup lower the quality and efficiency due to hard water composition, but the scale inside the appliance results in a shorter lifespan for your coffee machines, ice makers, and water heaters.

Gas or Electric Bills

When you have a water softener installed, it will remove the magnesium and calcium ions from the water. As a result, you’ll see an improvement in your home’s energy efficiency because the appliances no longer have to work as hard when scale builds inside a pipe, and the space available for water to pass through narrows.

As a result, the water pressure must increase for water to pass through. The pipe narrowing also causes a failure to efficiently transfer heat, forcing you to run your water heater to compensate.

Soap and Detergents

Water softeners improve the efficiency of soaps and detergents. The magnesium and calcium ions in hard water prevent these cleaning products from working properly. As a result, you have to use more soap or detergent than necessary, wasting money and resources. With a water softener, you can save hot water by using cold water for laundry. Hot water is often used to remove mineral deposits and better dissolve detergents. This is unnecessary with a water softener system. Washing with cold water will also keep your clothes from shrinking.

Soft Water Makes Your Skin and Hair Soft

If you have hard water, you may have noticed that your skin and hair feel dry after showering. This is because the mineral ions in hard water prevent it from being completely soluble with soaps, forming a precipitate in the form of soap scum. A water softener will remove these minerals, leaving your skin and hair feeling soft and healthy.

Soft Water Makes Your Skin and Hair Soft
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The minerals in hard water remove the skin’s natural oils, which can dry out your skin or result in itchy, irritated skin. Soft water can also help balance your hair’s pH level, while hard water can make your hair feel dry, brittle, and fizzy.

Soft Water Removes Unwanted Tastes from Your Drinking Water

The minerals in hard water can also make your drinking water taste unpleasant. If you have a well, the hard water can also affect your appliances, as well as your plumbing. A water softener will remove these minerals and give you fresh-tasting water.

Softer and Cleaner Clothes

Hard water can cause your clothes to wear out more quickly and not look as bright. This is because the minerals in hard water can build up on your clothes and make them feel stiff. A water softener will remove these minerals and leave your clothes feeling softer and looking brighter.

Cleaner Dishes

Dishwashers use a lot of water, and the minerals in hard water can leave spots on your dishes. If you live in a hard water area, you’ll know how difficult it’s to keep your dishes clean. No matter how many times you clean them or the soaps or detergents you use, your glass or silverware is left with cloudy spots.

A water softener will solve this problem and leave your dishes sparkling clean. And because soft water fuses with soaps and detergent more completely, there is more lather and more cleaning action in your dishwashing machine.

Easier To Clean Household Surfaces

When you do the laundry or wash dishes, the minerals in hard water are left behind on surfaces like sinks, drains, tubs, and showers. Over time these minerals can build up and cause soap scum or leave behind mineral deposits. These mineral deposits can be difficult to remove and often require the use of harsh chemicals like bleach or acid.

With a water softener, you can say goodbye to all of these problems. Soft water cleans surfaces more completely, so there is no build-up of soap scum or mineral deposits. Water softener also helps you save time while cleaning surfaces because you won’t have to scrub as hard to remove tough stains.

Types of Water Softeners

The most common water softeners are relatively similar, with a few differences that may change their compatibility with your needs. Knowing the difference will keep you from installing a water softener that doesn’t fit your needs. Knowing the different types will also help you get the best water softener shower head for your home. Here are the common types:

Ion Exchange Water Softeners

The most common type, ion exchange water softeners, works by exchanging the ions in the hard water with different ions. The most common replacement is sodium for calcium and magnesium. This process is done with a resin bed that the water passes through. As the water passes over the resin, the calcium and magnesium are taken out of the water and replaced with sodium.

Reverse Osmosis Water Softeners

Reverse Osmosis Water Softeners
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Another common type of water softener is reverse osmosis. This type of softener works by filtering the water and removing the impurities. It uses the negative charge of plastic or resin beads to attract particles like calcium and magnesium ions. The impurities are then flushed down the drain, leaving you with clean, soft water.

Salt Free Water Softeners

Salt free water softeners are a newer type of softener that uses a process called ion exchange to remove impurities. This process is similar to reverse osmosis, but it doesn’t use salt to remove the impurities. Instead, it uses filter media to remove the calcium and magnesium ions. You can also use potassium chloride as a salt alternative to give you softened water. Also, note that salt free systems don’t remove particles or heavy metals. The most they’ll do is to prevent scale buildup in your appliances and water heaters.

FAQs on the Uses of a Water Softener

What are the benefits of a water softener?

The main benefit of a water softener is to improve the quality of your water. This will make it easier for you to clean your clothes and dishes, and it will also extend the life of your appliances.

How does a water softener work?

A water softener works by using a process called ion exchange to remove impurities from your water. This process exchanges the calcium and magnesium ions in your water for sodium or potassium ions.

What is the purpose of a water softener?

The purpose of a water softener is to improve the quality of your water by removing impurities. This will make it easier for you to clean your clothes and dishes, and it will also extend the life of your appliances.

How often should I use my water softener?

You should use your water softener as often as needed to keep your water soft and free of impurities. You may need to use it more often if you live in an area with hard water.

Final Thought on the Uses of a Water Softener

A water softener is an important element to have at home because it can significantly improve your water quality. It is easy to use, and it does not require a lot of maintenance. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to get the most out of your water softener.


Kristina Perrin

Kristina Perrin

Kristina is an expert DIY home remodeler and mom to three. When she's not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her working on new home improvement projects or writing about her favorite kitchen appliances or DIY projects on Kitchen Infinity blog.

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